Cemetery still closed after May tornado damaged graves - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Cemetery still closed after May tornado damaged graves


NBC 12 is getting answers after concerns pour in from families unable to pay their respects to the dead.

A cemetery in Waverly is home to some 300 graves, but it's temporarily off limits to the public. There are downed trees and debris following a bad storm, but many are wondering why it's taking weeks to clear it.

There are only two cemeteries in the town of Waverly. Last month, a tornado ripped through the area - causing one to close. The timing couldn't be worse with the recent Memorial Day holiday. Now, some are asking, what's the hold up in getting it cleaned up.

May 22nd is a day leaders at First Baptist Church won't soon forget. It brought a devastating tornado that uprooted trees - scattering debris across the cemetery the church owns.

"Some of the citizens are very concerned about it. I am also," said Mayor Walter Mason.

That's because, weeks later the graveyard where some 40 veterans rest is still closed. The downed trees haven't gone anywhere.

For Mayor Mason, it's personal.

"My baby brother who was killed in Vietnam…he's buried down there…I have a grandfather, cousins, all buried down there," he said.

"I feel this has been a disservice to the town by allowing these trees to remain there without any information given to the residents," one viewer wrote to NBC 12.

"By First Baptist cemetery being a private cemetery, there's not much I can do about it but just get in touch…I can ask them to clean it up…I've tried to talk, but what can I do?" Mayor Mason said.

NBC 12 went to the head deacon's front door. Thomas Jones answered, admitting graves have been damaged and will need to be repaired.

"The insurance has been the hold up. They sent an adjustor out. He did an assessment. We're waiting to hear back. We can't contract anybody until we hear from them," he said.

"Are you confident that's going to come through?" we asked.

"Yes. Yes…They will be contacting somebody today to start and we are expecting by next week this time for it to be cleaned up," Jones replied.

He says as soon as they get all of those matters resolved, they plan to hold a special post Memorial Day tribute for those with loved ones buried there so they can pay their respects.

This isn't the first cemetery concern to hit Waverly. Back in April, police say someone dug up a grave and vandalized a casket at the town's second graveyard. That's a felony offense. No word yet on any arrests.

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